Monday, October 16, 2006

Calling All Cooks...

Not As Easy As it Looks!

This weekend I had a little get together for Sunday dinner. I served Baked Rigatoni with Meatballs and Italian Sausage, along with some Italian Green Beans, Mixed Veggies and a Fresh Salad.

My neice and her husband were sweet enough to bring along some delicious goodies from Whole Foods... Shiraz Wine, Marinated Artichoke Hearts, Edam Loaf Cheese, Campo Montolbano Cheese, Thin Wafer Crackers, Mixed Olives, and an Artisan Loaf Bread. Everything was delicious! For dessert I had Marble Cupcakes with Butterscotch Chips and Butterscoth Frosting and my neice brought some Fresh Strawberries.

As soon as I saw the strawberries, I knew we had to melt some dark chocolate for dipping! Which brings me to my question...Why Did My Chocolate Seize?

I had a bag of Hershey's Dark Chocolate Chips, which we put into a glass bowl and microwaved on high for about 1 1/2 minutes, stirring half way through. The first attempt, my neice added a little cold water because the chocolate didn't seem to be liquid enough. It immediately seized.

I knew this would happen because the water was cold. The second time, I heated the chocolate the same way and it was fine but I thought I would try adding a little heated fat-free half & half to thin it a little. The same thing happened! Within 20 seconds the chocolate turned hard.

I don't understand why it happened with the warm half & half. I thought that is how Ganache was made. I have seen chefs on TV add a little cream to chocolate to thin it before pouring it over a cake or tart.

Oh well, the third time was the charm. We just melted the chocolate and used it as is. And being the resourceful women that we are, we made Bon Bons with the hardened chocolate! Let me tell you, they were delicious!!

What did I do wrong? Is it because I used "fat-free" half & half?


Anonymous said...

The addition of water to chocolate will cause it to seize. When making ganache--you would combine heavy cream and chocolate and melt together..slowly. I also add a bit of butter. You can also add oils as flavorings--but they need to be added to the cream.

hope this helps.

Unknown said...

I've always see that you should either add butter or oil...something with fat in it. In the case of the half-and-half, if you had been doing it over a double boiler it probably would have worked...slower heating.

Chloe said...

I just watched this on Alton Brown. If you add just a drop of liquid it will seize. But you can reheat it and add MORE liquid and it will melt to the right consistancy. But I think Claire is right he had to add some fat (butter I think) to make it smooth as well. It escapes me what episode I just watched!

wheresmymind said...

YAY for Alton Brown...I was thinking the same reasons as the other posters!

Deborah Eley De Bono said...

Seems as though everyone else already had the answer and I've nothing to add except I do use the fat free stuff for lots of baking but not to replace any of the fat, just use it for flavor.

Good for you using the chocolate for something else. Sometimes great recipes come from mistakes.

Emma said...

I'm not much of a cook so I can;t really answer that question but everything sounds delicious to me. Every time I visit your blog, my stomach starts to growl!

Annie said...

Thanks everyone for your help! I just finished the rest of the bon bons- YUUUUUUUUUUUUMMM!

funwithyourfood said...

when i melt chocolate I put the liquid in with the chocolate as i'm melting it that way they combine and heat at the same time.

never had any problems but i d like bonbons :)


na said...

I always melt my choccie in a stainless steel bowl, on top of a saucepan with a small amount of simmering water (keep the temp low) to prevent seizing, and so far so good! (knock on wood) I watched a daytime cooking show that explained that due to the different content of fats and oils in different chocolate brands, microwaving will seize those with a lower content of oils/fats. eg: white chocolate will almost ALWAYS seize in the microwave! And DO NOT add water to your chocolate mix to spread it further. That combined with the melted "fats/oils" will cause it to seize also! haha! I hope this was of some help, and regardlessly your strawberries look delicious!

Mistress Fate said...

The problem with half & half is the water content. It's almost like skim milk with there is so much water in there. To make a half & half substitute you would use equal parts heavy cream or evap milk & water - hence the half & half.

Always use cream or milk with high fat content, and never water.

Once it's seized, there's not much you can do with it. Seizing is different than it just cooling and hardening. After seizing, you can just about throw it away for all the good it will do.

Hope that helps!